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Unfair to Chelm Print E-mail
By Sarah Honig
June 1, 2007


Most murders-by-Kassam in Sderot occurred outdoors: a three-year-old taken by his mother to kindergarten, a grown-up resting on a park bench, an Ethiopian-immigrant tot and his baby sister playing on the sidewalk, a schoolgirl returning with her younger brother from after-class activities, a worker in the factory yard, a middle-aged pedestrian on her way to work, a woman driving to visit her mother, a technician on his computer-servicing route.

None of the above would have been saved even had millions been frittered away on concrete reinforcements for Sderot residences and public buildings. Nevertheless, fortifications are popular. It's comforting to believe in facile solutions which entail no awful choices or painful risks.
The additional perks of collectively indulging in delusional deliverance-from-danger fantasies are the incomparable opportunities they offer for lusty recriminations. Political hotshots already pass the buck to their predecessors for not having shielded Sderot from rocket fire. Projecting blame onto others constitutes the ultimate cop-out and diversionary tactic, as abundantly evident by all the printed and broadcast verbiage devoted to the non-buttressing of Sderot.

Granted, homes with sound shelters are better than homes with none. But would even the sturdiest structures protect Sderot? Only if its residents recede tortoise-like into their shells and suspend all animation indefinitely; any telltale hints of vitality might cost lives. Venturing beyond secure spaces means heightened vulnerability for Sderot's 24,000 inhabitants. Safety rules out grocery shopping, taking kids to school or staying gainfully employed.

The town whose folk must cower behind battlements 24/7 is for all intents and purposes dead. Its lifelessness bestows victory on Gaza's terror fiefdom no less than a desperate exodus. Infallible anti-Kassam insulation could only be provided by a giant impenetrable steel umbrella constructed to envelop all of Sderot, neighboring farm communities and even Ashkelon up the highway, with its sizable population, power station, oil pipeline, fuel depot and desalination plant. Indeed for truly foolproof results, the entire western Negev should be creatively cocooned.

Failing that, however, we're left with the abject humiliation and admission of impotence inherent in the very readiness of a sovereign state to contemplate dotting ordinary streets with concrete cubes to offer cover for ordinary civilians going about the ordinary tasks of their ordinary lives. No normal country would stand for this.

A DEFENSIVE posture makes no sense in this situation - especially reliance on yet-to-be-devised super-tech anti-Kassam missile wizardry. The Kassam, we need recall, costs a pittance to manufacture. To go after each such flying pipe-bomb with exorbitantly expensive, ultrasophisticated guided gimmickry is about as practical as the tortoise-armor approach.

Rising expectations for superficial fix-ups inculcate in once-resolute Israelis the subliminal perception of terror as a natural disaster to which we must somehow grow accustomed and which cannot be combated. >From here it's an insignificant distance to quasi-legitimizing the daily bombardment of a sleepy backwater town. Subsequently this all but invites derivative international censuring of sporadic "disproportionate" responses to such routine attrition.

Leaders or would-be leaders who promote the premise that nothing can extricate Israel from the bloody bind, jeopardize not only Sderot but undermine the very Zionist endeavor and the Jewish state's self-preservation. If Israel concedes that orderly life cannot continue in Sderot, then - as Hamas honchos gleefully crow in our faces - tolerable existence would eventually become impossible anywhere else in the country. If the Sderot domino falls, it's only a matter of time before Ashkelon goes under, followed by all the dominoes along the road to the last debilitated bastion of Tel Aviv.

Contrary to defeatist propaganda, offensive options are numerous - beginning with cutting off electricity and water supplies to the Gaza that targets the very Israeli power and pumping stations that charitably sustain it. Let Hamas, which liberally obtains weaponry and explosives via Egypt, import utilities from there as well. For starters we can stop being willing suckers.

But it's no coincidence that those who resist rooting out Gaza's pernicious potential are the identical headliners who cheered 1993's Oslo, 2000's midnight flight from Lebanon and 2005's disastrous disengagement from Gush Katif. Sderot's agonies today - and who knows what calamities tomorrow - are direct and explicitly predicted byproducts of the loser mentality of the false prophets who foolishly fathered the Oslo, unilateral Lebanon withdrawal and disengagement fiascos.
Any moves to undo the incalculable damage they wrought would perforce underscore their unforgivable recklessness. Refusing to acknowledge failure, they insist there's no other way - terror cannot be overcome. They advocate more of the same disabling deployment of international forces which now constrict IDF freedom of action in the north. Having emotionally disengaged from stretches of homeland, they propose the surrender of yet more strategically vital patrimony to genocidal enemies.

The latter would thereby be further emboldened, unleash greater aggression, which would elicit more Israeli concessions, which would be just as effective as anything those mythic problem-solvers of Chelm could concoct. Recidivist pseudopragmatic appeasement of Islamofascists is every bit as logical as the Chelm sages' repeated ingenuity in clearing away bothersome heaps of earth piled up during the digging of synagogue foundations.

Not to be stumped, dispensers of Chelm wisdom quickly proceeded to excavate a deep pit into which all excess soil would be dumped. That of course soon raised the issue of what to do with the mounds that towered over the mouth of the new pit, whereupon it was cleverly decided to shovel them into another pit that would be dug for the expressed purpose of eliminating the predicament created by the earlier pit...

But the comparison is unfair to Chelm. Its screwy brainstorming, while futile, harmed no one.
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